There’s nothing quite like cooking a whole bird over charcoal or good wood. The flavour can’t be surpassed. The trick is to be patient and not cook the bird over too high a heat, as you’ll burn the outside before the meat inside has cooked. There are some great flavours going on here - salty, sour and sweet.
Step1: Marinating Chicken
With a large, sharp kitchen knife, slice through either side of the chicken's backbone, and remove. Working from the cavity side, slice just halfway through along the breastbone so the bird can be pushed open and butterflied out. Place the bird in a dish, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and massage the marinade all over the bird, including under the skin. Marinate for a few hours or preferably over night.
Step 2: Tamarind Tomato Chutney
Break up the tamarind into pieces in a small bowl. Pour over the boiling water and set aside for 10 minutes. Place a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the oil, onion, fresh ginger and garlic. Fry for 10 minutes then add the cumin, ground ginger, paprika, cinnamon, and chilli flakes. Turn the heat down low and stir for a couple of minutes to prevent sticking.
With your hands, mix the tamarind and water together to form a paste. Place a sieve over the saucepan and pour in the paste, working it back and forth through with the back of a spoon to push it through the sieve, then discard the pulp and seeds. Stir the tamarind paste into the onion mixture.
Add the remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper. Adjust the heat to medium low and simmer the chutney, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until rich and thick (about 1 hour). Taste and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until required.
Step 3: Preserved Lemon and Currant Couscous
In a saucepan on medium heat, place the oil, onion, currants, lemon zest, preserved lemon peel and bay leaves. Gently fry over low heat for 15 minutes.
In another saucepan heat up the chicken stock and butter to just boiling. Stir the couscous into the onion and currant mix then pour in the hot stock. Bring to the boil then place a lid on the saucepan and remove from the heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then uncover and fluff up the couscous with a fork.
Let the couscous cool before adding the parsley and mint. Taste and season with sea salt and black pepper. If it tastes a little flat, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to wake it up.
Step 4: To Cook and Serve
Heat up the chargrill to medium heat.
Season the chicken liberally with sea salt and black pepper. Place the chicken skin side down on the grill and let it cook for at least 8 – 10 minutes before turning, which should prevent it from sticking. Keep cooking for 10 minutes on each side, turning and moving around the grill to the temperature spots that suit. The chicken will take around 40 minutes to cook. Check for doneness by poking a knife around the leg joints. The juice should run clear when the bird is ready. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.
Carve and divvy up the chicken on to plates along with the couscous. Top each portion with a decent dollop of tamarind tomato chutney.
Photography by Kieran Scott